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The Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) has okayed the design of Terminal 2 (T2) at Mumbais Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, making it the first airport in the country to have security checkpoints before immigration.
The sequence of security checks at the four-storey terminal was being debated for the past few months after immigration officials, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other security agencies objected to the design.
Their main concern was the lurking passenger who could be turned away by immigration after security check and could still have access to the airport building.
Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL), a joint venture of the GVK-led consortium (74%) and Airports Authority of India (26%), which was awarded the contract to modernise the airport in February 2006, was pushing for the new design.
MIAL officials said Airports Council International (ACI) had approved the system, which was also in place in Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong airports. ACI is the nodal agency which has approved immigration checks to follow security at international airports such as Changi in Singapore, said an MIAL official.
Elsewhere in the country, immigration desks are always placed before security checkpoints, so that if anomalies are found in passenger documents he or she can be sent back. Now, a passenger will have to go through security check first. If he is turned away from the immigration desk, what are the chances he will leave the airport and not pose a security risk? said a CISF official in New Delhi.
CISF officials in Mumbai, however, seemed to have accepted the new norm. Having security checks prior to immigration will ensure safety of the terminal and give passengers a chance to return items not allowed to be ferried back to their relatives. In the existing system, they have no option but to dump such items, said an airport official.